What does it mean to really take care of yourself? Despite what our Instagram feeds convey, it doesn’t require a spa day, yoga retreat, or juice cleanse. At its core, self-care is about recharging and reducing stress. It’s a way to revive your mental and emotional energy and recommit to knowing your self-worth. Neglecting these regular moments of self-care will eventually leave us feeling drained, burned out, anxious… or all of the above!
Since life may never get less busy, it’s time to embrace everyday moments of self-care. There’s no reason to wait for a spa day or vacation to get re-centered and rejuvenated when I can seize the day and take care of myself right now.
As much as we may want to take better care of ourselves, there’s a big difference between knowing how important it is and actually following through on making it a part of our daily lives. Scroll on for 5 simple ways to incorporate self-care into your routine so you can wake up and live #likeyoumeanit every single day.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
The best way to really be there for the people you love? Make sure you’re dealing with your own emotions and issues. Self-care is essential to your mental health and wellness, and taking time to listen to what you need and addressing it doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you strong.
Take time to process negative feelings –don’t rush through them or ignore them altogether. Acknowledging your feelings can slow you down and help you think more rationally.
Learn to Say No
It can be tough, but setting limits on your time can help you deal with feelings of anxiety, stress, and irritability from taking on too much. Your emotional energy gets depleted by doing too much for too long without a break: by ignoring the signs of burnout and by sacrificing priorities like exercise and relationships because you’re “just too busy”. I’ve found that letting these things go in favor of my to-do list only makes the emotional load heavier.
By practicing self-care and prioritizing our needs, we give ourselves a chance to step away and breathe, avoiding burnout. Instead of meeting friends for dinner, maybe you need a hot bath or a solo yoga class. Brew some hot tea and leisurely read a novel for an hour without any distractions. And remember that it’s not just physical energy and stamina that are threatened by doing too much for too long; it’s also our focus, mental clarity, and productivity.
Treat Yourself Daily
Instead of designating one day a week for that “cheat meal” or guilty pleasure, do something every day that just makes you happy. As a sweets lover, I’ve learned that having a few bites every day leaves me and my sweet tooth completely satisfied. I take way more pleasure from treating myself to one high-quality piece of chocolate and fully savoring it, instead of mindlessly downing a bag of candy on my designated “treat day.”
Other ways I like to treat myself daily? Pouring a glass of red wine while watching Bravo on a Tuesday, listening to a funny podcast on my morning walk that doesn’t have anything to do with work or self improvement, or reading a totally captivating novel before bed. They key to these daily treats is that they’re for no other reason than making you happy — and that you do them wholeheartedly, without feeling like you’re wasting time or should be doing something more “productive” instead.
Nourish Your Body
Regular exercise and nourishing meals lead to increased energy, happiness, and health. Maybe you wake up 30 minutes earlier to cook a healthy breakfast or go for a short jog before work. Or, spend some time meal prepping on Sunday to ensure you have healthy food at-the-ready, and to take to the office for lunch throughout the week. These simple lifestyle adjustments can make a dramatic difference in how you look, feel, and process emotions.
Sitting down to meditate, journal, or pray for even just a few minutes a day has a whole list of scientifically-proven health benefits. Carving out 10-20 minutes to get quiet and focus your attention inward can help boost resilience and emotional wellbeing when presented with stressful situations throughout the day.
You can try deep breathing exercises, repeating a mantra, or if you’re anything like me and find yourself antsy and distracted just sitting there, download a meditation app to help you focus. I’ve tried a few, and lately I’m digging Headspace as it provides short, guided sessions that I can tune into quickly whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed.